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Home > News & Events > Active Health Advisories > Salmonella outbreak in southwestern Alberta

Salmonella outbreak in southwestern Alberta

December 24, 2012

LETHBRIDGE — Environmental Public Health in Lethbridge is investigating an acute outbreak of Salmonella in southwestern Alberta in collaboration with Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health. The first case was reported Dec. 13th.

There are more than 30 cases, mostly in rural areas of the southwestern Alberta. It’s suspected many of the infections are secondary infections meaning it is spreading among household contacts. It is critical individuals use safe and effective hand washing practices.

Predominant symptoms associated with this outbreak are: diarrhea that may be bloody, abdominal cramps and fever, and vomiting and nausea in some cases. Salmonella illness can last for several weeks. The most common complication of Salmonella is dehydration. If you are showing signs of dehydration, you should seek medical attention; otherwise, the illness usually clears up on its own.

Eating contaminated foods is the most common cause of infection with Salmonella bacteria. Contaminated foods could include raw or under cooked eggs or egg products, meat, poultry (including turkey), raw fruit and vegetables.

You can also be exposed to Salmonella bacteria by not thoroughly cleaning surfaces that have been used to prepare raw meat and other foods in the kitchen, or if you have not properly washed fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them. Food handlers who have not thoroughly washed their hands after handling raw meat or after using the washroom can also contaminate food.

Salmonellosis symptoms generally occur within six to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria in food, environmental or other sources, and last four to seven days, or longer. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. However, some people can become infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show symptoms. Even though you don’t show symptoms, it is still possible to carry the bacteria and spread the infection to others.

Residents can contact Health Link Alberta to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-866-408-LINK (Edmonton: 780-408-LINK; Calgary; 403-943-LINK).

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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